Red hot Hamilton Tiger-Cats roll past Montreal Alouettes for key home win

HAMILTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats continued their solid start to the season on Friday night with a 41-10 home victory over the Montreal Alouettes. The Ticats improved their record to 3-0 for their best start to a season since 2004.

Receiver Brandon Banks came through with another highlight game for Hamilton, scoring his third touchdown of the season on a 30-yard rush and racking up 152 receiving yards on 7 catches.

Running back Sean Thomas-Erlington added 149 total yards to help the Ticats secure the win, including a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

Jeremiah Masoli improved his personal record against the Als to 5-0 with his third career 400-yard passing game. The quarterback completed 25 of 31 passes for 417 yards and a touchdown while also adding two rushing scores.

Hamilton’s stout defence racked up six sacks and an interception while constantly shutting down the Als’ offensive attack. Defensive end Ja’Gared Davis led the way with three sacks on the night.

Vernon Adams got the nod at quarterback for Montreal and finished with 173 passing yards and a touchdown toss to receiver Jake Wieneke.

The Als’ defence did their part to keep Montreal in the game early on, finishing with three interceptions and a forced fumble on a big goal line stand.

Standout Ticats defensive lineman Ted Laurent notched a sack on the opening drive of the game to force a quick two-and-out, but Masoli was picked off by Tommie Campbell on the ensuing drive while attempting to complete a deep pass to receiver Mike Jones. The interception was the first for the Als’ defence this season.

Adams and running back William Stanback began to lead the Montreal offence down the field, and a big sideline catch from B.J. Cunningham put the team in position to score. But the Als’ drive stalled after a big sack from defensive end Ja’Gared Davis drove the offence back, forcing Montreal to punt the ball.

The Ticats added an interception of their own later in the first quarter when defensive back Cariel Brooks got his hands on a short Adams pass intended for Cunningham on an out route. The Ticats were close to converting the turnover into points, but a 46-yard field goal attempt from kicker Lirim Hajrullahu came up short.

Hamilton running back Sean Thomas-Erlington began to find space in the second quarter, moving the sticks with a 13-yard run. Masoli followed up the positive gain with one of his biggest throws of the first half, a 42-yard bomb to receiver Brandon Banks. The big gain set up a scoring opportunity with the Ticats’ offence on the doorstep, and quarterback Dane Evans put his team on the board first with a one-yard rushing score. Masoli completed the two-point convert pass to Bralon Addison on the next play to give Hamilton an 8-0 lead.

The Als responded with a successful 46-yard field from kicker Boris Bede that was set up by a 21-yard catch-and-run from running back Ryder Stone.

But the Ticats got right back to business on offence, with Banks showing off his explosive skill set by gaining 20 yards on a catch and following it up with a beautiful 30-yard touchdown run. Banks made multiple defenders miss as he took off towards the end zone for the score, and Hajrullahu capped off the quick scoring drive with the extra point to put the Ticats up 15-3.

Montreal’s offence appeared to be getting things on track on the following drive, but a big sack up the middle by defensive tackle Dylan Wynn forced the Als to punt. That is when a huge 63-yard punt return from Frankie Williams put Hamilton right back in scoring position. But Montreal linebacker Henoc Muamba led an incredible goal line stand to deny the Ticats three times in a row and prevent them from adding to their lead before half time. Muamba and the Als’ defensive front was dominant to end the drive, with the linebacker forcing a fumble on Evans to end things in the first half.

Thomas-Erlington broke things open to start the third quarter by getting deep for a 75-yard touchdown catch from Masoli, his first score of the season. Thomas-Erlington turned on the jets to gain 40 yards after the catch and find the end zone. It only took the Ticats three plays to go down the field to add to their lead, and Masoli added the two-point convert with a throw to Nikola Kalinic on the next play to put the Ticats up 23-3.

Montreal’s defensive unit continued to keep the Als in the game, adding their second interception of the night when Masoli’s pass into double coverage wound up in the hands of defensive back Greg Reid. But Banks came through once again on Hamilton’s next offensive drive with a 47-yard catch-and-run, setting up a 34-yard field goal from Hajrullahu that extended the Ticats’ lead to 23 points.

Montreal got into the end zone for the first time shortly before the third quarter ended, with Adams completing a solid 27-yard touchdown pass down the field to receiver Jake Wieneke. Bede added the extra point to make the score 32-10. The touchdown score was the first of Wieneke’s CFL career.

Defensive play continued to keep the Als in the game to start the fourth quarter, and Reid added his second interception of the night by picking off a pass intended for Addison near the goal line. But Masoli quickly bounced back by leading the Ticats to another touchdown, this time carrying it into the end zone himself for the score after taking the offence down the field with big passes. Masoli’s nine-yard touchdown run was followed up by a two-point convert catch from Thomas-Erlington, giving Hamilton a 24-point lead with just over 10 minutes to go.

The Ticats added to their lead once again to seal the victory, with a 36-yard punt return from Frankie Williams and solid gains from Erlington-Thomas setting up another rushing score for Masoli. Hajrullahu added the convert kick to give the Ticats a 41-10 home win.

Week 4 will see the Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats square off once again, with the Ticats heading on the road next Thursday to face the Als at Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium on July 4.

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